As I’ve mentioned in some of my previous posts, I just started my first “real” semester of college. (I was here for the shorter summer semester, where I only had to take 2 classes.) Now, I’m a full-blown-college-freshmen and even though it’s only my third week of classes, I’ve already learned a lot.
It was a blessing to be here during the summer and get used to dorm life, take some classes, and start to learn my way around campus, but nothing can truly prepare you for the start of your college career. There are so many new variables including roommates, harder classes, social life, and of course, living on your own. Here are a few things I’ve learned from my experience so far:
Moving away from home is a good thing.
I have always been a very independent person, and my closest friends can vouch for how ready I was to leave the nest and move to college. Since I was able to be here for six-week summer semester, I knew that after those six weeks I’d be returning home and seeing my family before moving back for fall. Even though I wouldn’t be gone for too long, I had still moved out and moved four hours away from my family and childhood home. I know lots of people who got really homesick right away, but I’ve had a much easier experience. Yes, I miss my family lots, but I was ready to live on my own and take care of myself. It’s scary moving into a dorm or apartment for the first time, but it’s a new experience and there’s so much room to grow and learn about yourself as a person.
Your roommate can make or break your transition.
I live in university dorms, and my roommate has definitely been my greatest blessing throughout my college kickoff. We met each other through a Facebook group used to meet your roommate (kind of like online dating, but for roomies), and we also lived together this summer. We got really lucky with each other; we get along great and we became close friends right away. Your roommate becomes your family at college, so it’s much easier if you get along with them. I know people who aren’t as lucky with their roommate situation, and it makes life a lot harder when you aren’t as comfortable “coming home” because of the problems you have with whoever you live with. You can’t really plan out how your roommate experience will go, but when it is a good situation like I have with my roommate, it makes the whole experience much easier… and you have a built-in friend!
With so much change, it’s important to keep some things constant.
For me, this has come with continuing to go to church each week, even though that means going to a new church than the one I grew up at and finding new friends to go with me. College can be a testing time for your values too, so it helps when you hold yourself to whatever standards you set for yourself and make friends who share some of those values. With my high school graduating class all branching off to different schools, I’ve definitely learned who my true friends are, but it’s nice to have friends from home who know me best and have supported me through the transition.
The most difficult part of your workout routine shouldn’t be actually getting yourself to the gym.
My roommate and I made a goal to make working out part of our new routine. We started going to the gym right away and we still go together two to three times a week. People who don’t workout say “they never have time” or “they’re scared of going by themselves” but college is all about time management and finding (or making) friends to do stuff with. All my classes start in the afternoon, so I work out in the mornings and when our schedules work out, my roommate and I go together. The gym can be intimidating at first, but everyone is there to work out and is at their own level of fitness. There are so many benefits to working out and once you make it apart of your weekly schedule and find a workout routine that works for you, you’ll wonder how there was a time when you didn’t work out regularly.
Time – management.
That’s it. It’s what every student tries to work on and master. You start to learn what’s truly important to you when you have so much to do and only so much time to get it all done. Prioritizing is important, and it is hard, but you’ll eventually find a balance between everything you want and need to get done.
It’s important to enjoy yourself, but that doesn’t mean you have to go out every night.
If you like going out and you can get everything else done and go out often, I commend you. Personally, I don’t like to go out that much and I like to separate school time and “fun” time by focusing on school on weekdays and then making time for more fun and social stuff on the weekends. Everyone has their own schedule, but you have to do what works for you. In addition, it’s important to have things you enjoy like sports or hobbies (like shopping) to enjoy yourself while taking a break from the schoolwork.
You can learn something from everyone you meet.
Whether it’s connecting with someone from your hometown you didn’t know before, learning about a new club/skill/activity/sport, or just meeting lots of new people with their own life story, family, background, perspective, etc., college is full of opportunities to learn. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and I’ve found that college is full of some incredible people. While there’s no way you can be best friends with every single person you meet, every single person has a story to tell or something you can learn from.
It really is the little things.
I say this all the time and someone laughs at me every time I do, but I really do enjoy the little things; they add up to be big things. I cherish the little things like clean laundry, people who hold the door open behind them, warm chocolate chip cookies, green lights, or just smiling at people you walk past. There is always something good to focus on if you look hard enough.
Family really is forever.
This is one of those cliques that holds true. When you start college, your whole life changes in so many ways, but your family will always be there. My relationship with my parents has changed in a positive way since I moved out. I think I’ve become closer to them because I don’t see them every day so there’s more opportunity to share my day with them. In addition, all parents were *surprise* teenagers and college kids at one time, too, so they have infinite advice that comes in handy with so many new things to learn and accomplish.
You’ll learn a lot about yourself, who you are, and who you want to be.
I’ve met a lot of cool people and like I said, they can all teach you something, but at the end of the day, what is it that you can teach to them? Now, more than ever before, you have the opportunity to shape the path of your life, beyond just your major and career path, so you have to figure out where you want to go. Even just starting my classes, the first classes I’ve taken under my major, has solidified my choice to follow the career I’m passionate about. This final point is a combination of all the previous ones in that with so much freedom in college, you have the freedom to be and do whatever you want. This is just the beginning, but I’m doing everything I can do learn and grow to help me run in the direction I want to go.